I wrote back in August about the Tour de Farm NJ in Hunterdon County, NJ - the first of three cycling tours through farm country. I have to admit, that ride kicked my butt. I could barely move for the rest of the day after biking 38 miles. That's the longest I've ever ridden in consecutive miles in one trip.
The second cycling event, Tour de Farm NJ in Sussex County, NJ, held on September 6, did not disappoint. I even felt pretty good after 34 miles of riding. I even put on a pair of heels and went out for dinner after we got home and had a chance to shower. Not sure if I just knew what to expect this time, if I was more conditioned, or if 4 fewer miles made all the difference, but I weathered this one better than last time.
If you want to do Tour de Farm NJ this year, you haven't missed your chance. There's one more scheduled for September 19th in Warren County, NJ. Get details on their website.
We started out at Sussex County Fairgrounds. A great breakfast was served (although not in the most efficient way....many were still waiting in line for breakfast when we took off - a learning experience, no doubt). This event even featured Lieutenant Governor, Kim Guadagno, who kicked off the event after 8 year old Natalie Torres sang the national anthem. (Natalie was talented and adorable.) It was a bit more fanfare than I thought we needed, but it was a nice touch. The Lieutenant Governor even had her biking gear on, and I think went out on her bike for the tour too.
This event gave cycling routes for 15, 34 and 75 miles. We chose the middle route (see recorded map route below), which was hilly, but I think that it had fewer stretches of looooonnnngggg hills like the last course did. Probably made it more tolerable.
I liked this tour a bit better than the last because we visited more farms, and the farms had more of a variety. I didn't dislike the first trip by any means - I loved it, but just glad to see this was different than the last one and that we got to experience different types of farms. While Hunterdon County offered many dairy farmers, this one had more produce to offer. Unfortunately, the only vineyard on the trip, Ventimiglia Vineyards, was only part of the 75 mile trip. We could have gone afterward in the car, but decided to head home after the ride.
If you miss some of the participating farms because of the length of your ride, you can still go after the ride in your car. Just keep the wristband on.
On the 34 mile route (in this order), we visited:
- Hillcrest Farm - They offered delicious apples and doughnuts. Even saw the milk truck being filled up.
- Glenmalure Farm - Named after a valley in the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland, Glenmalure Farm had a great spread of different kinds of meatballs in heated dishes and meat for sale. I saw lots of people going back for seconds. They even had a cow that herded sheep. (See picture below.) You had to see it to believe it, but it's true.
- Everlasting Farm - Beautiful flowers from their farm were on hand.
- Churutabis Farm - They offered up some out-of-this world deviled eggs made from their organic, free-range chickens. Well, I don't think the chickens made the dish, but they provided the eggs. They also had meat for sale.
- Willow Brook Farm - Excellent bruschetta - a pepper version and a tomato version. They have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) - check them out. CSAs are a great way to support your local farmers and get fresh produce delivered during the growing season.
- Hidden Pastures Farm - a "Fiber Farm" who has alpacas and yaks as well as some adorable fluffy rabbits. Even saw a very young yak. (And I got a great hat there.)
- Sunset View Farm - They had delicious produce available - fresh tomatoes, watermelon, grapes, blackberries, and more. Very nice and tasty.
- Ideal Farm - They also had refreshing watermelon and doughnuts on hand and we checked out their farm market, which had flowers/plants, jams, baked goods and more. They were getting their haunted house set up, so be sure to check them out in October.
What's interesting is that they don't sheer the animals on the Fiber Farm. They just brush the undercoats for the fibers.
Know before you go:
- Take lots of water with you and refill your bottles or your CamelBak along the way at the farms. They were generous in letting people refill their water, which was nice.
- Take cash - most of the farms don't take credit cards.
- Put the telephone number you'll get in the confirmation/reminder emails into your cell phone. If you need assistance, you can call the number and they'll come get you or assist as needed.
- Bring a portable charger for your phone if you think you'll run out of juice.
- Bring a cooler in your car for taking farm goods home with you - put some ice/ice pack in there to keep them cool if it's a long ride home.
I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).
I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)
This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.
In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself.
With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix DMC-ZS15 compact camera.)
I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.
Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!